5 things you didn't know about the 2021 Cubs until now


Only an idiot would evaluate a 162-game baseball season after just one game.That’s why we waited until the whole opening series against the Pirates was over before drawing conclusions about what the Cubs got right over the winter and spring, what they got wrong, and where that leaves them in what’s shaping up as a very tight division race.“I got a question for you,” Cubs second baseman David Bote said during a memorable spring moment that seems appropriate here.“When does it become a small sample or when does it not? How does that work?” he said, smiling, as he raised his voice for effect. “Small sample size, you suck against lefties?! Small sample size, you crush righties but you can’t hit righties over 500 [at-bats]?!“Come on! Where’s the consistency?”It’s all good, Dave. We’ve got all your answers right here. And with just the right amount of consistency.Trust us.That’s why we waited for all three games.

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Not only is the 2016 MVP back to All-Star form after struggling through an injury-hampered 2020 season, but he’s this year’s MVP front-runner in the National League and looks like he’s going to hit right around 54 home runs.

Two more hits and a walk in Sunday’s 4-3 victory — after a homer and walk the day before — was just the latest example of the kind of season Bryant is having, keeping him at the front of a crowded MVP field.

That included a rocket to right-center to beat the left-side shift to drive in the first run of the game.

“If he’s in that spot and locked in like that I think we’re going to see a great version of Kris Bryant this year,” manager David Ross said.

Said Bryant, shrugging off questions about his swing and return to form: “This is supposed to be what I feel like.”

Makes you wonder how that meshes with all the newfound “openness and honesty” Bryant has found with newly promoted team president Jed Hoyer as his final season before free agency plays out.


The seven-time All-Star who lost his closer job after struggling early last year has retired every batter he has faced this year with an eye-popping 83-percent strikeout rate (five of six).

That included a 1-2-3 inning with two Ks Sunday in his first save chance.

For those scoring at home, that’s 10 consecutive scoreless appearances, dating to last season, with 18 strikeouts and zero walks.

“That’s Craig Kimbrel,” teammate Ian Happ said. “He’s one of the best to ever do it, and we have all the confidence in the world in him.”

Get the bus warmed up for All-Star trip No. 8 — wherever the game is this year.


The Cubs have the leadoff spot figured out for the first time since Dexter Fowler left after 2016.

The Cubs are averaging a whopping 1.7 walks per game from the leadoff spot, with a .500 on-base percentage and 1.071 OPS.

Arbitration champ Ian Happ had two walks and a homer on Sunday alone, helping key the big series-clinching win.


Pitching behind ace Jake Arrieta, the veteran acquired in the Yu Darvish salary-dump trade needed only nine pitches to get through the first inning Sunday, allowed only one hit through five and earned the victory in his Cubs debut.

“With our game planning and his ability to control the strike zone and move the ball around, he’s going to be a really great asset for us,” Happ said.

The only question left for the Cubs to answer is whether they’ll pry some of that Marquee or landmark-status money out of Tom Ricketts’ fist to give Davies the $100 million extension they won’t give Anthony Rizzo.


The Cubs at this rate will clinch the division either Sept. 19 in Milwaukee or Sept. 21 at home against the Twins.

Obviously, they’ve only played the Pirates, so you have to take that into account and not start projecting 108 wins or something stupid like that. But 100 certainly seems within reach the way things are shaping up so far this season.

“We played a really well-rounded series after that one game,” Ross said. “This is the team I would envision [us being] up to this point for sure.”

Bring on the Brewers for Series No. 2.

Says Bote: “Oh, come on!”

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